The U.S. Navy Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships, USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) and USS Sirocco (PC 6) completed a week of maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman, Dec. 19.
Maritime security operations in U.S. 5th Fleet entail routine patrols to determine pattern of life in the maritime domain, enhance mariner-to-mariner relations and disrupt the transport of illicit cargo.
“The U.S. Navy and our partners’ ability to contest the battle space in all areas where the transport of illicit cargo is used to fund and/or arm terrorism and other unlawful activities is paramount,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael McAraw, commanding officer of Thunderbolt. “Through persistent maritime security operations like these, we show our commitment to enabling the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic.”
During their time in the Gulf of Oman, they conducted several approach and assist visits. The face-to-face interactions with local mariners during these visits yield valuable information on movement at sea within the region.
“Building mariner relations is important to interdiction operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Jenkins, Jr., commanding officer of Sirocco. “The sea area is vast; in order to develop pattern of life and identify tripwires for illicit activity, we must gain the trust of the local mariners to increase information sharing.”
The crews of both ships worked night and day during the operations.
“This mission was a great learning opportunity for us as we integrated with other units,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Keen, who serves as the search and rescue swimmer aboard Thunderbolt. “With increased knowledge of the area, we will be better prepared for future operations in the Gulf of Oman.”
Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) members, assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), embarked the ships to assist during the operations. Their robust maritime interdiction training allows them to detect specific triggers that help to disrupt, degrade or deny unlawful activities taking place throughout the region while maintaining an overall understanding of local networks.
Thunderbolt and Sirocco are two of the 21 ships forward-deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.